Waiting periods and deadlines are so ubiquitous that we often take them for granted. Yet they form a critical part of any democratic architecture. When a precise moment or amount of time is given political importance, we ought to understand why this is so.
This lecture explores the idea of time within democratic theory and practice. With a special focus on immigration, we will discuss how political procedures use quantities of time to confer and deny citizenship rights. Using specific dates and deadlines, states carve boundaries around a citizenry. As time is assigned a form of political value it comes to be used to transact over rights. We will draw from these observations a normative analysis of the ways in which the devaluation of some people’s political time constitutes a widely overlooked form of injustice.
Elizabeth F. Cohen is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is the author of Semi-Citizenship in Democratic Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2009), The Political Value of Time (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Citizenship (Polity Press, 2019) and a forthcoming book on immigration enforcement in the US. Her scholarship has also been featured in Citizenship Studies, Perspectives on Politics, and Ethics and International Affairs. In addition, she publishes op-eds in newspapers such as The Washington Post and Politico.